Album Premiere: Ruler’s ‘Winning Star Champion’

Seattle music scene utility player Matt Batey steps into the spotlight with his new indie rock album for Barsuk Records.

Matt Batey is a familiar face in the Seattle music scene. As a professional touring musician, he’s taken turns providing lead guitar and vocal harmonies for acts like Cataldo and Rocky Votolato (often with healthy doses of humorous stage banter). He’s just a consummate glue guy that makes Seattle concerts better.

When Batey isn’t helping other musicians out, he’s working on his own music, which he records and performs as Ruler. And with Winning Star Champion—Ruler’s debut LP on Barsuk Records (out May 25)—Batey steals the spotlight. It turns out the lead role suits him just as well as all his supporting parts.

Winning Star Champion delivers the type of polished, intelligent, and catchy indie rock that’s become the Barsuk’s trademark—fitting seamlessly alongside labelmates like Nada Surf, Chris Staples, and Death Cab for Cutie. Over bright and unpretentious guitar rock tracks, Batey sings with the urgent yelp of an underdog (as the chorus of the title track goes, “I’m the winning star champion of fucking up / like a high school rebel running out of luck”). During the album’s less scrappy moments, Batey transitions into melancholy, as on “Get To You,” which reflects on an always-ending relationship. The instrumental backing is bolstered by an all-star cast of Batey’s Seattle music pals, including Michael Lerner (Telekinesis), Eric Anderson (Cataldo), and Eric Howk (Portugal. The Man).

Take an exclusive first listen to Winning Star Champion before it arrives in stores and on digital platforms this Friday.

Ruler (aka Matt Batey). Photo by Lauren Max

Ruler (aka Matt Batey). Photo by Lauren Max

More in Music

Death Cab for Cutie Headlines Deck the Hall Ball 2018

The annual 107.7 The End holiday bash moves to WaMu Theater.

The new Chris Cornell statue resides outside of MoPop. Photo courtesy MoPop
Seattle Rock Star Statue Breakdown

The new Chris Cornell statue at MoPop got us wondering about the statues honoring local music legends.

Jazz harpist 
Brandee Younger. 
                                Photo by Kyle Pompey
A Beginner’s Guide to Earshot Jazz Festival

A look a seven of the most intriguing performers at Seattle’s annual month-long jazz celebration.

Cumulus (Alexandra Niedzialkowski) searches for a ‘Comfort World.’ Photo by Sarah Cass
The Silver Lining of Cumulus’ Clouds

The Seattle indie pop act returns with the bittersweet tunes of ‘Comfort World.’

Ludovic Morlot enters his final season at the helm of Seattle Symphony. Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco
Adieu Already for Ludovic Morlot

The Seattle Symphony’s conductor looks ahead at his final season in charge.

Musicians Rally for a Free #SaveTheShowbox Concert at City Hall

The event corresponds with the City’s public land use hearing regarding expanding the Pike Place Market Historic District.

Angel Olsen: Always worth a closer inspection. Photo by Taylor Boylston
The Bare Bones of Angel Olsen

Seattle Weekly chats with the reflective singer-songwriter ahead of her Seattle solo show.

Album Premiere: Lizzie Weber – ‘You’

The Seattle folk singer-songwriter pens potent and poetic breakup songs on her new EP.

Labor Day weekend, Bumbershoot style.
A Look Back at Bumbershoot 2018

Thoughts and photos to recap the annual extravaganza.

Knife Knights emerges from the woods to play its first public live set at Bumbershoot. Photo by Justin Henning
Bumbershoot 2018 Picks

Music headliners, comedians, and local favorites: These are the acts to seek out at this weekend’s festivities.

Best of Seattle 2018: Arts & Entertainment

Best Musical Act Thunderpussy After years, 2018 finally (finally!) saw Thunderpussy put… Continue reading

Jessica McKenna and Zach Reino get a touch melodramatic about not needing a script for Off Book: The Improvised Musical podcast. Photo by Robyn Von Swank
‘Off Book’: Silly Story Singing Sans Script

The Broadway-worthy hijinks of ‘Off Book: The Improvised Musical’ podcast come to Bumbershoot.